Larry Summers, who served as Former President Clinton’s Secretary of Treasury, President Obama’s Director of the White House United States National Economic Council, and Harvard’s president, stirred up the pretty big 2005 debate about women’s representation in the science and math fields. Essentially, Summers concluded that there is “relatively clear evidence” of an innate difference between men and women, and that men will always dominate the technological fields due to… nature, I guess. Because Mother Nature doesn’t want women dabbling in engineering or computers because there are sandwiches to be made, or whatever. This public announcement was huge. People freaked out and studies were done, and things were proven and disproven, but for some reason, the debate still exists. Is there really an innate difference between men and women in technology?
Last weekend, 17-year-old Jennie Lamere won a Hackathon – a TVnext Hack event in Boston held for hackers, businessmen and computer techies who compete with each other for the grand prize: $2,500. Jennie, the only young woman competing, won by inventing Twivo, an awesome hack that allows you to check your Twitter before you’ve had the chance to catch up on your favorite T.V. shows and NOT totally have the episodes spoiled by your Twitter feed. Let’s say you’re like me and jumped on the Game of Thrones boat two years too late and you’re checking your Twitter one day, only to find out what happened in the second season finale. All I would have had to do was enter “Game of Thrones” and Jennie’s Twivo would have blocked every single mention on my feed. Twivo is like my knight in shining armor that protects me from spoilers. And did I already mention my knight is a girl?
Yeah. Jennie Lamere was the only female in this competition, and also the only minor. So, going back to what Larry Summers said about women’s suffering interest in sciences: I call BS. I think a lot of women out there are totally capable, if not very talented in the science and math fields. Is it a matter of interest? Lack of representation? Maybe.
According to evolver.fm, “The internet, of course, is rife with opinion about What Has To Happen in order for more girls to get into programming, for more women to speak at tech conferences, and for how to make guys not be jerks to them when they do enter these fields or show up at these conferences.”
I think it’s intimidating for a lot of young girls to pursue a field that has been so classically dominated by really competitive men, probably with egos. A hacker shouldn’t be identified as some young genius male plotting a way to overthrow Facebook in his dorm room. We need to re-identify and deconstruct this stereotype, and not just in the hacker world, but in every “nerdy,” tech, science and math field that women supposedly just aren’t “naturals” in. Because we are. It’s a fact, duh.
Featured image via The Galleon